The more people I meet, the more I learn to take a holistic point of view to life. When I first started becoming interested in Islam (although I was raised by religious parents, my religion didn't always interest me), I used to wonder why others don't see what I see. I used to think, if this is really the truth, why isn't it reaching all those people who definitely have intellect and goodness? After all, the Qur'an constant keeps saying that the signs of Allah are for those who have intellect (e.g.: 38:29). What does that mean? Does that mean that people who are very high achievers in our society are not of 'intellect'? Or does that mean that some parts of the Qur'an cannot be taken as the truth?
With more people I meet, and the more parts of Qur'an I read, I realise that it is not just dependent on a person's intellect to find the truth. It depends greatly on if they are seeking the truth, and seeking it from the right source. In order to do so, one must completely leave arrogance. Arrogance clouds one's judgement from accepting the fact that it is possible for a deity to exist without whom nothing can function. And Allah does not guide the arrogant (7:146). Also, one must be completely honest with oneself. And most importantly - one must recognise that there is a truth to be sought, then, ask to be guided to the truth. And Allah is Just - He gives everyone a chance at least once in their lifetime to turn to Him. He tests everyone. Although the tests occur in different forms, in the end, we are all tested according to our abilities and rewarded according to how we react.
The two types of intellectuals who I have come across who I thought had great potentials to lead a life of Islam, yet, did not choose it so far, were - those with arrogance, and those who simply were not looking for it. This is what I failed to recognise when I used to be frustrated with the people who just don't see Islam the way I do. This frustration occurred because I kept forgetting that my job is not to guide - my job is just to let people know in the best way I can (88:21-26). I don't have the power to change hearts - only God can do that. And He will do so when the person who's heart needs to be changed wants the change (13:11).
The other thing that people do when they are constantly thinking about such people is that they greatly reduce their own productivity. They invest a lot of energy and time on one person, when a few others could have benefited much better with equal or less effort. For example, I know for myself that I spent a lot of time just 'talking' about Islam to these people, sometimes losing sleep, time for study etc. I tend to lose balance, and once that balance is lost, every other commitment in my life is affected. In the end, the talking comes to nothing much (in my eyes), and the consequences of the loss of balance amounts to a whole lot of extra work. And often, I lose sight of the purpose of such talks altogether. I would be so consumed by trying to reason things that I would subconsciously think about it even in my prayers.
And when I thought about it, Allah talks about this in the Quran too - in an incident where the prophet paid more attention in trying to give Islam to the elite in the society than a blind man. "The Prophet frowned and turned away. Because there came to him the blind man, (interrupting). But what would make you perceive (Oh Muhammad), that perhaps he might be purified. Or be reminded and the remembrance would benefit him? As for he who thinks himself without need, to him you give attention. And not upon you (is any blame) if he will not be purified. But as for you who came to you striving (for knowledge), while he fears (Allah), from him you are distracted. No! Indeed, these verses are a reminder, so whoever wills may remember it." (80: 1-12). I think once the Qur'an is read with the intention of using it as your guidance, it really does provide it.
I think, we need to learn to recognise the end of a productive discussion. When an attempt to convince someone of something has a negative effect on more important things, such as helping someone else who can benefit from you, or your own personal worship, it crosses the point of being 'productive'. This is where we need to remember hadiths such as: "Whoever does not argue when he is in the wrong will have a home built for him on the edge of Paradise. Whoever avoids it when he is in the right will have a home built for him in the middle of Paradise. And whoever improves his own character, a home will be built for him in the highest part of Paradise." (Tirmidhi)
But then, this brings up the problem of being passive. How do you draw the line between being passive and stepping away from an argument for the sake of Allah? How can you be healthy and assertive, but at the same time, get to that highest level of Paradise?
I tend to find that I have a lot of passive aggression in my behaviour. Basically - when I get really angry, or I feel that something is unfair, I tend not to say anything right then and there, but burst sometime soon. I think I am getting better at controlling these though. I realised it happens because my thoughts close up - I just cannot respond at all. When I do start talking, I start stuttering really badly, and that just makes me delve deeper into my passive aggressiveness. I think this generally happens to anyone who is a little shy by nature. However, I am consciously trying to get out it. Every time such a situation comes up, I try to think up of reasons of why I am feeling such a way - then try to 'talk' instead of shout. Always works better. :)
When the talking meets a dead end, that's when you realise that it is turning into an 'argument' that cannot be solved at this point in time. That is when you smile and say, 'maybe you're right', and walk away. Still trying to master this skill.
Lately, I am finding that certain people are placing more value in what I have to say because I am studying Psychology. I do find it amusing, although I must say its not entirely wrong to do so. Studying Psychology taught me about people's interactions a little bit more. I actually do find myself observing others a lot more than I used to, and enjoying it. There is a strand of Psychology called Neuropsychology - which deals with working with neuroimaging in people with mental disorders. In plain terms - neuropsychologists figure out if something is wrong with a person's brain - which is then taken to doctors to solve. This is currently interesting me. But then, there are so many things that are currently interesting me. Life is good. :)